Emotion-identity management through talk: Anger talk in young Israeli men's accounts on a negative experience

Rotem Leshem*, Rakefet Sela-Sheffy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The nexus between emotions and identities has long been accepted. Moving away from macro categories of group-identity, the present study takes a micro-sociologist perspective in focusing on individuals' emotion management as related to accomplishing identity tasks in interaction. Using natural talk in conversation, we propose a micro-analysis of the unfolding of different emotion-identity strategies throughout a specific encounter. In a previous study we examined the verbal performance of young Israeli men during an offensive bargaining-episode. The present study focuses on 12 of these subjects' retrospective accounts of this negative experience during an unstructured interview. Assuming that the interview setting imposes on interviewees certain interactional rules, notably the expectation to perform emotion-exposure, we ask how these speakers abide such expectations in accordance with their broader cultural models of self. Analysis shows that without being asked specifically about emotions, all our interviewees invoked anger in their narratives, however differently: 1. their accounts of the aggressive bargaining-episode divided between stories of Emotion & Relations - where anger works as a moral justification to one's action - and Control & Strategy stories - where anger talk is avoided. 2. Solicited to reminisce other negative past events in their life, most of the interviewees invoked anger, but split between extensive anger talk and anger attenuation. These differences are explained by different framings of the offence to their self-image, on the personal vs. social levels, in terms of different models of self - individualist-centered vs. collectivist-oriented. These findings provide insights on the emotional versatility of individuals sharing the same highly stereotyped social identities, such as masculine identity, in terms of dynamic management strategies conducive to restoring self-worth in a specific encounter type.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentity in Communicative Contexts
PublisherPeter Lang AG
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783653061000
ISBN (Print)9783631666616
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2016


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